NEAR-MISSES – HOW THEY HELP IN IMPROVING SITE SAFETY



Exposure and experience fine tunes ones abilities to come up better next time around. This is one among the many life hacks that prepare the humanity for life’s long journey. Ever wondered how a child learns swimming or for that matter the simple task of walking- learning from experience. This is true in any field, including business.


Safety at construction sites is always a top priority for those in the real estate industry. They can ill afford an unsafe zone at their sites. While they make every effort to bring in safety of their workers and infrastructure, close calls are not too uncommon. In fact, a near mishap is more often an eye opener to hitherto unseen areas of possible hazards. The learning from such ‘events’ provides a great opportunity for the management to tighten up loose ends and plug loop holes in the safety protocols.


WHAT ARE NEAR-MISSES?


Simply put, a near-miss at construction sites is an event that could have resulted in a workplace accident if the sequence of events has played out differently. According to ISO 45001, a near miss is “a work-related incident where no injury or ill health occurs, but which has the potential to cause these.” A near-miss and an accident are incidents for concern and must be eliminated for overall workplace safety. But unlike an accident, a near miss is an incident that did not result in a fatality, injury, or property damage. Broadly, any event, howsoever minor, which could have led to catastrophic outcomes must be viewed and is viewed as a Near-Miss.


Almost all near-miss events are intricately weaved into the very work process that is the lifeline of the organization. A tightly controlled and monitored work process is paramount to eliminate the inherent causative factors of near mishaps. Digital solutions like SafetyApp provide a hawk-eye view of everything that is going on at any construction site and alert the management of avoidable mishap triggers. A wrong step or a faulty move can result in a near mishap.


For example, slipping or falling or tripping is one of the most frequently occurring workplace accidents. This could be due to various reasons like poor lighting, slippery ground surface or loss of concentration on the part of the human resource. In this example, the event could have turned into a major disaster if not for the timely intervention of unforeseen chain of events- like the worker holding onto a railing or an object to prevent him from falling and injuring self and possibly those around.


Having said that, it is imperative to properly map near-misses to draw useful safety lessons from them. Close calls are harbingers of the fault lines in the system, calling for corrective action. They are considered the bedrock of safety procedures and practices in the construction industry and elsewhere too. The work process should be primed and mature enough to collect vital information and data from near-misses and glean the take away for future course correction. Digitization helps in insulating construction workflow with safety measures. It aids in inculcating, implementing, and monitoring safe methods of working in the construction activity.


HOW TO MAP NEAR-MISSES AND ESSENTIAL STEPS FOR IMPROVING OVERALL SAFETY


ENHANCED REPORTING MECHANISM


First things first- everything boils down to a sound reporting system. It should be simple, easy and fast for the workforce to report possible mishaps. It is not rare to see some construction firms incentivizing such reports. The reporter is usually rewarded with a gift voucher or a letter of appreciation, depending on the magnitude of the near-miss. This helps in driving away the hesitancy in the workforce to report near-mishaps and enhances the overall safety of the zone. Mobile apps like SafetyApp play a vital role in improving reporting systems at construction sites. Hand held phones being the norm these days, workers at sites can click pictures of the near-miss event and share it with authorities for corrective solutions.



RESULT ORIENTED FOLLOW UP ACTION


Merely having a tight and sound reporting environment does not automatically help in enhancing safety at construction sites. The willingness and the commitment to learn from the near-mishaps and tweak the work procedures accordingly will. A committed investigation and follow up into each and every reported incident of near-miss is what the management must assiduously do in order to reap the benefits of collecting such data. Root causes must be pin pointed, procedural hurdles ironed out and requisite changes must be put in place in the management systems too, wherever needed.


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